The King of Casinos: Willie Martello and The El Rey Club

( 1 )


WINNER! 2014 International Book, 2014 USA Best Book Awards, Florida Book Festival

WINNER! Silver Medal, 2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Awards

FINALIST! Best New Non-Fiction, USA Best Book Awards, 2014 Red City Review Book Awards

RUNNER-UP! 2014 Hollywood and Beach Book Festivals

HONORABLE MENTION! Great Midwest and Southern ...

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WINNER! 2014 International Book, 2014 USA Best Book Awards, Florida Book Festival

WINNER! Silver Medal, 2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Awards

FINALIST! Best New Non-Fiction, USA Best Book Awards, 2014 Red City Review Book Awards

RUNNER-UP! 2014 Hollywood and Beach Book Festivals

HONORABLE MENTION! Great Midwest and Southern California Book Festivals

After a horrific blaze destroyed Willie Martello's El Rey Club in 1962, fifty years would pass before anyone knew of how that casino and one-time brothel influenced LAS VEGAS casinos, upset the mob, and inadvertently launched the career of Francis Ford Coppola.

Were it not for the chance discovery of a single photo in a Las Vegas museum, the El Rey Club would only be known as the seedy brothel where Senator Harry Reid learned to swim. Martello's accomplishments should place him among magnates like Howard Hughes or Steve Wynn, yet very few know his name.

Featuring over 140 rare or unseen photos, these vibrant stories are now brought to light!


"Who else could tell the story of Willie Martello, that rollicking town builder, casino owner, and favorite of Sinatra's Rat Pack? The rare photos alone are worth the price of admission. My only regret is that I didn't write this book."

-Robert Graysmith,
New York Times Bestselling Author of Zodiac, Auto-Focus, and Black Fire

"Quick, funny, and extremely intelligent!"

-Mark L. Walberg,
Host, Antiques Roadshow (PBS)

"A literal time machine...a read that not only unleashes the imagination, but authenticates the splendor of Las Vegas' golden years."

-Todd Newton,
Emmy-winning game show host, author, and Las Vegas performer

"Andy Martello has written a fascinating biography of Willie Martello. It is a long-awaited addition to my Nevada history shelf."

-Mark Hall-Patton,
Clark County Museum System Administrator,
Pawn Stars, American Restoration (The History Channel)


-Richard B. Taylor,
Author, historian, Las Vegas casino owner

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780615894591
  • Publisher: Just A Martello Books
  • Publication date: 1/4/2014
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 815,697
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Andy Martello is a comedian, actor, variety entertainer, and freelance writer. Originally from Chicago he now makes his home in Las Vegas, Nevada.

A writer since birth, his work has appeared in the pages of the North Las Vegas Voice newspaper and Strip Las Vegas magazine.

Aside from his very popular (and rarely updated) blogs, his humor and opinion columns can be found at web magazines such as The Cheers, Absolute Write, Malicious Bitch, and Gapers Block.

This is Andy's first (and probably his last) book.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 25, 2015

    A Las Vegas comedian/entertainer explores the colorful life of W

    A Las Vegas comedian/entertainer explores the colorful life of Willie Martello and his El Ray Club.

    This tongue-in-cheek look at a little known chapter of Nevada history is meticulously researched and chock full of first-person accounts
     from Willie Martello's family, friends and business associates. The author's treatment of his subject is even handed and gives us a good
    sense of the charming, funny guy whose Big Plans for the desert town of Searchlight, NV crumbled under their own grandiosity. Andy
    Martello ( no relation to Willie!), a collector of memorabilia, stories, and friends is supremely present in his work. The story of how he came
     to write the book--and the challenges he faced completing it--are as fascinating as the main tale. He's honest about his struggles with his
     material and the struggle to find a balance between his role as "objective" chronicler of history and a human being who truly admires his
    subject and has an emotional stake in rehabilitating the guy's image.

    And Willie Martello had his issues. Funny thing is the prostitutes (far fewer than you'd imagine) and financial recklessness (if this fellow
     had soundly reinvested a FRACTION of the money that came his way <>...) didn't leave me with a negative
    impression of this larger-than-life character. There's a certain sweetness and optimism that makes up for all of his excesses. Except for
     the burros. Nothing funny about selling wild creatures (under BLM protection, no less) to some anonymous guy on his way to Idaho. He
    might have ground them up for dog food for all anyone knows. Yes, the burro incident ticked me off. Were Willie still around, I'd go over to
    his assisted living facility and tell him exactly (and with plenty of profanity) what I think about that one. 

    Burro-gate aside, however, I like the Willie Martello I met in KING OF CASINOS, and consider his story a one-of-a-kind addition to the
    Nevada historical record.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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